Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team principal, Christian Horner described the team’s efforts in the Formula 1 French Grand Prix as a “solid start” to the first ever triple-header of grands prix.
Drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo qualified fourth and fifth for the race at the Circuit Paul Ricard and both were able to avoid the first-lap accidents that befell Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.
Dutchman Verstappen had a untroubled race to take a third podium of the season in second place, behind race winner Lewis Hamilton.
Team-mate Ricciardo was narrowly edged out by Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen for the final podium spot after debris damaged his front wing.
“The French Grand Prix represents a solid start to the triple-header,” explained Horner. “We are happy to come away from our first run at Paul Ricard with a good haul of points for the team, and a podium.
“Max had a good, strong drive to complete a very good weekend. From the start, he managed to avoid the collision between Sebastian [Vettel], and Valtteri and then settle into a second place with a good, clean race. “
Ricciardo was in fourth position upon the safety car restart, and after quickly dispatching Carlos Sainz, Jr. seemed set to claim a double-podium finish for the team.
However, with around 20 laps of the 53 left to run, his pace suddenly slowed due to a front wing issue, which allowed Räikkönen to catch and pass the Australian for third place.
“It was a shame for Daniel,” said Horner. “Around the mid-point [of] the race, the top two elements of his front [wing] flap became disbanded, possibly through hitting some debris.
“It was very frustrating as he also looked good for a podium finish.”
Looking forward to Austria
Next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix marks the first since Red Bull announced it would sever ties with Renault at the end of the 2018 season, for a supply of Honda power units from ’19 onwards.
And Horner is hopeful that the team can put on a good showing in its home grand prix, at the Red Bull Ring.
“We go directly to our home race in Austria, where we hope we can be as competitive there and take the fight to the leaders,” he said.
After eight rounds of the 2018 season, Red Bull sits in third place in the constructors’ championship, on 164 points, 73 behind leaders, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport.
Ricciardo’s is ahead in the drivers’ standings in fourth place on 96 points, 28 ahead of Verstappen on 68 in sixth.